Food prices could rise by five per cent over the next few months as the “war for workers” in the UK places increasing pressure on supermarket supply chains.
The severe shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, thought to be in a deficit of 100,000, alongside abattoir workers and fresh fruit and vegetable pickers have meant suppliers have been forced to increase their wages.
This wage increase is expected to make its way up the supply chain, eventually leading to food price inflation “in the mid-single digits” during the second half of the year, according to the Food and Drink Federation’s chief executive Ian Wright.
The meat industry is understood to have been hit hardest by the shortage and its wider causes such as Brexit and the exodus of European workers during the pandemic.
According the The Guardian, meat processing firms are paying staff around 10 per cent more than usual, while the industry is estimated to be missing around a fifth of its necessary workers.
This has been exacerbated by Brexit red-tape, which now requires qualified vets to approve health certificates of animals being transported in or out of the UK.
Retailers have become increasingly vocal about the issue, with Sainsbury’s warning last week that it was facing shortages of strawberries, salad and other fresh produce, while Ocado said it had begun lending staff to its suppliers who have been hit by the shortage.
Tesco has also warned that the crisis was creating 48 tonnes of food waste each week, the equivalent of two lorry loads.
The hospitality sector is also being hit hard by the crisis, with many hauliers such as Eddie Stobart reportedly being forced to prioritise larger account holders over smaller clients.